Final Post- Seamless Experiences & Reflecting Brands Values in a Virtual Realm

My final blog post will be based on aspects of the Week 4 task, addressing how companies apply the meanings which consumers associate with their brands to create unique experiences and sustain seamless communication techniques in an online environment.

Verganti (1998), similar to the views of many others outlined that innovation gives organisations their long-term competitive advantage and provides them with a stable base for designing communications and creating brand values which completely differentiate them from rivals, becoming easily distinguishable for consumers. The innovation which empowers a brand could stem from a user-centred background where products are based on customer needs which they may subconsciously unveil through their everyday behaviour/use of existing products or a design-driven background where companies create products with new meanings; which convey a completely new reason for customers to buy them.  Nintendo and Apple are classic examples of design-driven innovators when they have devised new unexpected meanings and created designs which have turned the brands into unique platforms providing unmatched benefits for its users. Whether the meanings are created by the organisation or emanate from consumer behaviour, it is such meanings which constitute the values associated with a brand. Companies must understand the meanings people make of their brand/products and integrate these meanings into all of their marketing communications in order to sustain a favourable reputation and customer loyalty. Martin (2009) who expresses that authenticity is about being consistently true to one’s meaning, states that ‘truly authentic brands align every customer touch point with that meaning’ (pg. 141). In this way seamless communication requires that a company is orientating all of their communication platforms/techniques around the values which reflect their brand.

On the basis of digital communications, some companies strive to make their websites as much of a seamless experience as possible by ensuring their web pages, communications style, and even their error pages follow a particular brand theme reflecting the brand’s values as much as possible. Okonkwo (2010) outlines that even sound which is inseparable memories, knowledge, and emotions, can play a significant role online as it influences the creation of a specific ambience and enables people to build representations of unseen places in the universe of the brand. The challenge of creating seamless experiences for the consumer online is that certain that the service offering/features become intangible. As mentioned previously, an in-store experience has a strong aesthetic appeal, where the lighting, colours, sound, smell, layout, and presentation of the staff are easily sensed by a person, contributing to a brand atmosphere and portraying the brand meanings. Similar to this perspective Chaffey et al (2009) highlights “a website visitor has limited physical cues to help form an opinion about a company and it’s services, such as talking to a sales representative or the ambiance of the physical store”.

With these difficulties in mind, organisation can still improve the intangible delivery of their services by focusing everything around the values their brand reflects, providing a high level of customer support, and by providing intriguing content which make consumers feel as close to a real experience as possible. Flores (2004) draws on different aspects of a quality site experience which are substantial for encouraging visitors to return. This involves creating a compelling, interactive experience including rich media which reflects the brand, encouraging trial by integrating response activators such as samples, coupons or prize draws, and utilizing permission marketing to being a ‘conversation’ with the most valuable customer segments.

One organisation which demonstrates effective digital communication expertise by providing a highly engaging website which reflects its brand values and the meanings consumers may perceive is Innocent. Innocent Smoothies is regarded as a brand with a fun sense of humour personality that represents feeling good. The values which Innocent focus on throughout their marketing communications correspond how it’s positioned by consumers in being simple, natural, tasty, fun, friendly, and healthy. The communications style is simple and witty just like their packaging and promotion, a variety of different font colours conveys their fruity and colourful nature, and a range of fun and cute imagery/icons are used. Innocent demonstrates all three of the online brand communication techniques mentioned by Flores above. The website displays and provides access to many competitions which are all based on the brand values, and the homepage asks users to join the innocent family though email subscription (permission marketing). ‘The website’s purpose might not necessarily be to distribute brand information; it might be to connect consumer’s together to share their own personal experiences’ (Joseph,2010, pg. 131).

What acts as a strong differential point for the Innocent website, collaborative to the company’s extensive efforts to maximise seamless site experience, is the amount of User Generated Content and Interactivity it encourages from its consumers. The competitions hosted on the website reward consumers for sending in pictures of their own activity such as the a-z competition, or even making their own mini movies which could become the potential sequel to the organisation’s next TV advert. Visitors can then converse with each other and even Innocent Representatives while sharing content. A recent competition allows prizes to be won on their kids’ website by playing their ‘banana phone plane game’ and scoring high. Visit http://www.innocentkids.co.uk . Strauss (2008) claims that companies with knowledge on content-orientated marketing have the opportunity to create intense relationships between the brand and customer, considerably increasing the company value. With this in mind, Croll & Power (2009) argue that UGC contribution can take three forms: new content, editing, and responses, which are all vital to dynamic site, but there needs to be a balance between these as too much or too little can be a bad sign.

Overall, the Innocent website is a perfect example of a seamless brand experience as every feature and component is pertinent to the values of the Innocent brand, matching their ‘design philosophy of keeping things simple’, and the usability is made as enjoyable as possible for visitors.

To conclude, creating a seamless brand experience is just as important in a virtual online environment as it is physically, where an organisation’s website will be frequently visited judged by a mass audience and not just a target segment. Costa (2010) established that online companies Amazon and First Direct are ranked second and third on the latest customer experience league because they offer a good experience without a personal touch point and customers have an emotional connection with Amazon.  “Even if branding is clearly manifested in product development, marketing and customer support, customers want a seamless brand experience across the board” (Joseph Lepla et al, 2002, pg. 227).

Word Count: 1093

References

1)    Chaffey D, Ellis-Chadwick F, Mayer R, & Johnston K. 2009, ‘Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation & Practice’, 4th Edition, Pearson Education Limited, Harlow

2)    Costa, M. 11/10/2010, ‘TurboCharge Your Service Performance’, Marketing Week, http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/analysis/features/turbocharge-your-service-performance/3020377.article, Accessed 21/04/ 2011

3)    Croll, A & Power, S. 2009, ‘Complete Web Monitoring’, O’ Reilly Media, Sebastopol

4)    Flores, L.  Feb 2004. ‘Ten Facts about the Value of Brand Websites’ Admap, Vol  39: Issue 447, pp. 26-28

5)    Joseph, J. 2010, ‘The Experience Effect: engage your customers with a consistent and memorable brand experience’, Amacom, New York

6)    Joseph Lepla, F & Parker, L. 2002, ‘Integrated Branding: Becoming Brand driven through company-wide action’, 2nd Edition, Kogan Page Limited, London

7)    Martin, D. 2009, ‘Secrets of the Marketing Masters’. Amacom Books, USA

8)    Onkonkwo, U 2010. ‘Luxury Online: Styles, systems, strategy’, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke

9)    Verganti, R. 2009, ‘Design Driven Innovation: Changing the rules of competition by radically innovating what things mean’, 1st Edition, Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston USA

DCS Week 8- Social Media Madness

The Power of Social Media

This week’s guest lecturer Daryl Wilcox accentuated how social media has become a very powerful tool for the distribution of ideas as well as the selling of products. The dominant reason for why social media has become vital for purchase decisions is because of the level of recommendations and advice shared within online social communities. The majority of consumers are strongly influenced by the opinions/advice of their peers which they may turn to on a social platform before executing a purchase. It is now manifest that the importance of traditional media is decreasing as many organisations perceive that stakeholders are online, and much can be learnt from online communities. The decline of traditional media outlets tends to be represented in the advertising revenues of companies, were there is much higher investment in digital communications. Daryl also outlined that the transformation of media has changed the behaviour of journalists, who have adapted their roles to more of a social media direction.

Social media can be a highly effective way of engaging with your current and future customers, increasing your brand’s exposure, and driving traffic to your site” (Parker, 2011, pg. 7) When marketing through social media platforms, companies must identify and engage with their target audiences, deliver a variety of content, and ‘share by default’, which means share their activity/ behaviour on a regular basis, to attract attention and allow online users to interact. Parker (2011) highlights that despite the social network/blog platforms used, the content of a message and the way it’s delivered must be kept consistent across all channels which creates more coherent brand messaging. This would be more effective at converting a site visitor into a customer.

Shepherd & the Citizen-Consumer Role

Shepherd (2009, pg 152) who investigated an OECD report on participative web and user generated content outlines her opposite perspective that ‘user contributions have been to central new developments in digital technology’ but the social significance of user generated is exclusive because not everyone has access to the technology. Shepherd feels that the OECD need to legislate for user’s rights rather than concentrate on business.  In the online realm, most users of social media platforms can play a combined role of ‘citizen-consumers’, as Shepherd (2009) comments they enable citizen engagement and public dialogue such as in the case of the Iranian election, but users are also encouraged to participate in the economic cycle of value by spending time consuming celebrity activity and gossip. Shepherd expresses that despite the potential for citizen discussion, the only democratization is choosing which celebrity to follow. Creators of user generated content carry consumer interests only which are economic (buying goods, using services).

The Whopper Sacrifice

‘Brand makers that don’t create their own conversation with their most passionate customers through social networks risk having a passionate consumer create that presence instead’ (Gers, 2009). Social media plays very strong roles with regards to connecting brands with their consumers, and enabling marketing strategies to become effective in online spaces. Burger King has strongly benefited from utilizing Social Media in a very unique way which distinguishes it from competing brands and has attracted a substantial amount of consumer attention. With a variety of campaigns the organisation markets its products by allowing consumers to become involved with the brand in different ways than just commenting their opinions on the quality of products.

 

The ‘Whopper Sacrifice’ app which Burger King created on Facebook 2 years ago could be seen as an effective marketing strategy from different perspectives. The app not promoted their ‘flame broiled Whopper’ with a large image to induce desire in consumers, but Facebook users were offered one for free on the basis of them committing to a simply yet enjoyable task of deleting 10 of their friends.

Through such a clever idea, BK could evaluate how tempting and appealing their product is, and consumers could benefit from deleting friends who they hold minimal social interaction. The campaign quickly went viral and was adopted by over 20,000 users, sacrificing 200,000 friends for free whoppers, with consumers commenting as the idea being ‘hilarious’. With a comical edge, Burger King’s social web campaigns are effective because they engage users, create interactivity, and have very memorable content.

Ethical Concerns

The second part of this week’s lecture addressed the regulation and ethics of online media, and the main ethical issues involve ‘datamining’ & ‘dataveillance’, privacy & security, and self-surveillance. Cheryl drew on the matter of online networks standing as representations of professional labour are replaced by user generated content which makes the technology being used become decentralised as every user/consumer controls their own behaviour. Some people see dataveillance and dataprofiling as a key for business whilst others perceive it as a concept which must be controlled/limited. Macy & Thomson (2011) highlight that during the time online companies have been collecting vast amounts of consumer data, consumer confidence has been constantly challenged to expand and adapt as technology capabilities increase. ‘The contradiction if that social media users enjoy the personalisation aspects of social technology platforms while at the same time wanting to preserve privacy’ (Macy & Thomson, 2011, pg 35). Other ethical issues pertain the reasons social media are used as some companies show good social responsibility with inspirational campaigns, whilst others may perceive a serious issue/event as an effective branding opportunity.

Burger King’s ‘Whopper Sacrifice’ campaign may raise ethical issues in this sense that it was orientated around datamining practices as consumers were required to provide a range of their details including name, address, birthday and number of children. Unsurprisingly Facebook held the most distinctive ethical concern highlighting that it was unfair how users were notified when their friend had sacrificed them, despite very few feeling carless towards this.

Visit http://www.geek.com/articles/news/facebook-disables-burger-king-whopper-sacrifice-app-20090116/ to discover why the app was disabled in more detail.

However the privacy and ‘datamining’ issues of BK’s app were recognized as unethical by very few. Obtaining consumer information is a standard practice for facilitating an organisation’s CRM database so products and promotions can be improved in the future, and the privacy of user’s is barely threatened by such an act. Even if the app was provoking unfriendly online behaviour, users found it humorous and creative, and it effectively encouraged them to talk about BK’S product.

1)    Gers, D. 14/10/ 2009, ‘Social Climbing: Luxury Fashion Brands Must Embrace Social Media’, Marketing, Forbes.com, Accessed 23/03, http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/14/social-media-luxury-brands-cmo-network-gers.html

2)    Macy, B & Thomson, T. 2011, ‘The Power of Real Time Social Media Marketing’, 1st Edition, McGraw- Hill, United States

3)    Parker, C. 2001, ‘301 Ways to use Social Media to Boost your Marketing’, 1st Edition, McGraw-Hill, United States

4)    Shepherd, T. 2009, ‘Twittering in the OECD’s “Participative Web”:  Microblogging and New Media Policy’, Global Media Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp. 149-16, Concordia University, Canada

 

DCS Week 7- Digital Activism and the Public Sphere

On the grounds of contemporary society, it is conspicuous and manifest that the public is less engaged and interested in matters of sincerity. This low level of engagement can be distinguished from the characteristics of a more politically concerned national community many years ago.  As Poor (2005) notes the public sphere which existed has been corrupted by the commercialisation of the press through advertising and entertainment. Modern Newspapers and press releases now tend to contain merely a small fraction designated to political affairs and occurrences. It may be biased to assume that the majority of the general public have been ‘dumbed down’ by the media and are more interested in celebrity gossip, but from a realist perspective political discussion is minimal.

This week’s lecture reconnected me with a unit studied last year; ‘Contemporary Media & Popular Culture’ where similar topics regarding the public sphere were studied. McQuail (2000) outlines in his mass communication theory that mass media is an essential element for wide political debate, where politicians may attempt to exercise power but it needs to be seen in terms of the public character, political, social, and economic importance. At micro level, mass media acts as agents of socialisation, social meaning, and uses a high amount of people’s leisure time but it must stress the capacity audiences have to engage. The public are now perceived to be less committed to their role as citizens and discussion of public affairs now seems to be composed by informed elite according to critiques. This basically implies the best educated and wealthiest citizens in the world are engaged. But despite the ideology that civic life may be a minor area of interest for many there are various spaces of discourse (areas where discussion and ideas are given voice) existent.

Digital Activism

‘The internet has created a brave new world of digital activism by providing forums for organising, communicating, publishing, and taking direct action’ (Spinello & Tavani, 2004, 527). But when Spinello and Tavani state ‘new’, they fail to apprehend that digital activism has been occurring for many years, as online campaigns have been created. Awareness levels may have been low because campaigns can be very targeted. Certain spaces which are available online support people who are looking to converse on about serious, and matters. Due to the effects of the media, discussions normally concern topics people are already in engaged in rather than new agenda. In an online environment, discussion can be formed on the basis of ideas and these ideas are given a stronger voice. There is potential to become engaged but also potential to become visible e.g. through online campaigns/competition, especially because online spaces tend to be inclusive with few barriers to entry. These views reflect the public sphere approach to analysing communicative spaces. By expressing views in an online space, news coverage can be generated from doing very little in terms the number of people who get involved and share discussion, and huge levels of conversation move across different sites.

Poor (2005) based on his analysis of Slashdot clarifies that the majority of discussions tend to be political with Slashdot stories involving law, with discussions always pertaining to computer issues. With a various range of sections to suite the interests of different visitors, the website only creates sections for topics which generate a great number of stories e.g. open source software. Even though this website is very target to particular segment, it demonstrates high levels of civic engagement and commitment to public affairs.

Activism vs Corporate Communications

Activism is about is about change whether politically, economically, or socially. The people/organisations that endeavour to make a change by generating awareness for certain issues, and forming a democracy to stand for a belief/controversy are the ones who wish to make change happen actively. Even though activism is synonymous with protest it can encompass a wide range of activities. In the world of marketing, companies can adopt an activist attitude to support in generating awareness for a product, or gaining support from consumers in a different way which may complement the development of products. But activism tends to play a stronger role in either supporting or damaging the values associated with a brand/corporate depending on their CSR activities. Greenpeace formed a campaign against  Indonesian palm oil producer Sinar Mas (Crane & Matten, 2011), with the aim of stopping companies such as Unilever and Nestle buying from them, utilizing a video ad published on youtube and social media e.g. facebook.

In a way Greenpeace generated significant awarenessfrom the public who were ‘for’ the political/ethical issue, not to help support the rainforest but allow Nestle to improve their CSR. Nestle may have benefited in different ways through the source of activism, e.g. changing to a new supplier to support their product quality, and also by understanding the issues the public sphere value, which could reinforce the strength of their brand image/values and complement marketing strategies.

References

1)    Crane A, & Matten D. 01/03/2011, ‘Anti-corporate activism through social media: how Greenpeace is leading the way’, IT & Communications, GreenConduct.com, http://www.greenconduct.com/articles/2011/03/01/anti-corporate-activism-through-social-media-how-greenpeace-is-leading-the-way/

2)    McQuail, D. 2000, ‘McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory’, 4th edition, Sage, London, pp. 16-34

3)    Spinello, R & Tavani, H. 2004, ‘Readings in CyberEthics’, 2nd Edition, Jones and Barlett Publishers, Sudbury

4) Poor, N., 2005. ‘Mechanisms of an online public sphere’: The website SlashdotJournal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 10(2), article 4

DCS Week 6- Digital Virtual Consumption and Customer Privacy

Desire is accelerated through Virtual Platforms:

From what I discovered to be one of the most intriguing lectures so far within the unit, Janice Denegri-Knott who specialises in teaching and studying consumer psychology provided us with a comprehensive insight into the effects of digital consumption. The level and type of activity/virtual behaviour  which now occurs online and in a virtual behaviour  indicates that consumers are more active than ever before in consumption processes, and that time-space limits are disregarded by a ‘Have it now culture’.  Janice explained based on her journal/research that Ebay has the impact of accelerating consumer desire and people use it to create excitement in their lives. Desire is a cyclical process as it is ignited, accelerated, re-ignited then satiated.

Another key point established is that consumption first occurs in the mind as consumers first imagine themselves using an object/good with a positive image, which then sparks the desire to obtain it. Despite the excitement or virtual pleasure desire may cause (primarily stimulated through adv. messages), consumption of the desire is never as exciting as what people anticipate.  It was also interesting to come to the realisation that many people in society now depend reality because they never fulfilled the dreams/desires they want and in this sense resort to ‘2nd life Quality’.  Fantasy can be imagined but cannot be transcended into reality, and digital virtual consumption can provide pleasurable experiences by making people feel as though their fantasies/desires are closer to reality than their imaginations.

The cycle of desire on Ebay is quite a complex process further explained in Janice’s reading, and normally tends to start with an individual’s nostalgic reflections/ deep memories, where they remember an item they had or wanted in their prime, and the desire to find the item then moves on to the desire to collect similar types of objects/products.

Digital Privacy:

The second part of the lecture addressed attitudes towards digital privacy and how consumers are oblivious to the levels of information obtained from them and used by online organisations/spaces. When considering the expectations for privacy, good fidelity and trust in a vendor/seller is dependent on the whether they stay firm with their promises and don’t take advantage of the consumer’s vulnerability.  This means consumers want to know how their information is used and accessed before trust in a service/product provider is gained.  In ideal world every internet user would be concerned with matters like this but many people tend to have a lack of interest in personal privacy and believe the perceived benefits of using a service e.g. Facebook outweigh the risks substantially.

The ideology that nothing is free’ pertains the theory that the exchange of information in a digital environment is a form of payment for using a service and the more involved people may become in an online service/website means the more information they are sharing as privacy can be minimal. Another fascinating point gathered from the lecture is that companies which provide technologies that define how we use the internet have significant interests in online advertising e.g. Google Adwords (covered in previous post), and have the highest advertising expenditures. The main reason for this stems from the wide access they have to user/consumer information which they then convert to knowledge about the most effective advertising and brand messages to use. Based on the wide levels of consumer data they cultivate, they know that there advertising has a high chance of prevailing and meeting objectives.A website can build profiles of the pages people have visited and integrate this with the profiles of others so patterns of many users can be reviewed, and special sites that support advertising networks monitors what ads people have seen and where (Cady & Mcgregor, 2002).

Cokezone Campaign:

The Cokezone campaign effectively demonstrates how digital consumption pleasures are created for consumers to accelerate their desires, and also how a consumer’s participation in the campaign/loyalty programme means they share great amounts of data they may be unaware of. The online campaign is orientated around 12 digit codes located on Coca Cola cans which engage consumers with price draw entries, guaranteed rewards and experiences money can’t buy. Collected points can be redeemed for different offers spread across entertainment, games, fashion, sport and music categories.

(http://www.cokezone.co.uk)

Denegri-Knott (2010) mentions desire is accelerated by the state of almost owning, in which one of her qualitative candidate would bid on Ebay just for the Buzz of anticipating a win. In this case ‘almost-owning consumers’ give into the fantasy of having an associated lifestyle. The range of expensive products & experiences available to be won on the Cokezone website means the same consumer attitude may apply in which they feel the desire to almost own a prize e.g 37 inch Sony Bravia TV, and will imagine using such a product before they attempt to win it. The facility to browse the wide range of goods on the website may accelerate their desire to find a particular one and acquire it through a 12 digital code which reflects ‘Buzz Marketing’ (excitement is created).While consumers are affected by Digital Virtual Consumption in this way, they are less focused on the data of their being used.The Cokezone website will track the prizes consumers express ‘desire’ and forward this information to the companies who provide or manufacture the product/service.

‘Please note that in processing data and rewards claims the Promoter may disclose your information to other companies in its group or to third parties used by the Promoter and its affiliates.’ (Privacy Conditions/Cokezone.com)

Does this affect trust in the Coke brand? or are consumers to busy daydreaming about the desires reinforced by the websites which they want to actualise? Thanks for reading. Any views or questions?

1) Denegri- Knott, J. 2010, ‘Have it Now: Ebay and the acceleration of consumer desire’, In: European Conference of the Association for Consumer Research, 30 June-3 July 2010 , Royal Holloway, University of London.

2)      Cady G, Mcgregor P. 2002, ‘Protect your digital privacy: survival skills for the information age’, Que Books, Indianapolis

DCS Week 5- The dependence of SEM and SEO on Google Adwords/Analytics

Search Engine Marketing:

In relation to this week’s lecture, Search Engine Optimization is orientated around ‘keywords’ and ‘links’. Companies who want to engage as many consumers as possible and attract attention must utilize keywords and suggest/provide links on their websites to be ranked higher in search results. Companies usually aim for a 2% keyword density.  To hold a reputable position on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) companies must be relevant and specific with their URLs and webpage titles, while ensuring the content connects visitors with the outcome desired.

Pan, Xiang, Law & Fesenmaier (2010) investigated the ways in which Search Engine Marketing has come into play within the Tourist Industry as one of the most important strategic tools. As most travellers use the internet for journey planning, Search Engines are described as the ‘Hobble Telescope of the Internet’ since they enable travellers to access billions of web pages comprising the online tourism domain (Xiang, Gretzel, and Fesenmaier 2009: Cited in Pan, Xiang, Law & Fesenmaier,2010 ). They established tourism businesses like any other must need to differentiate themselves by targeting different keywords from competitors and adopting SEO to increase visibility in organic listings, as well as paid listings. SEM strategies used by competitors, algorithms (how search engines rack the results), and the changing traveller behaviour should all be monitored.

Organisations may also implement ‘keyword stuffing’ practices which are filling their websites with keywords which are likely to be searched even when the actual site may contain irrelevant content and information which doesn’t reflect those keywords. In this case Google has adapted it’s Algorithms by decreasing the weight applied to each keyword in order to restrict businesses from biasing search results (Sen 2005: Cited in Pan, Xiang, Law & Fesenmaier,2010).

Analytics and Adwords:

Google Analytics and Google AdWords are tools for monitoring the rankings and tracking website performance. The tools are effective for measuring user traffic in line with the Return on Investment a company achieves. ‘Accurate data can reveal where visitors are visiting on a site, which provides a wealth of information about businesses’ web pages and online advertising’ (Pan, Xiang, Law & Fesenmaier,2010, pg 28). Adwords is addressed as the monopoly of online advertising and achieved a revenue of 29.3 billion in 2010. All other google products e.g. maps, gmail are able to be subsidised (provide on a free basis) because of the incredible income Adwords generates alone. As a form of paid search, Adwords enables instant advertising through Google search and content networks, saving the time and skills required to get good rankings through organic search (unpaid; keyword strategies). Adwords is effective because it is very targeted, reaching people who are already looking for a product/ service.  Linked to Adwords, Google Analytics is a sophisticated modern tracking tool/metric measuring the effectiveness of online advertising as opposed to traditional methods.

“The entire goal of the web analytics process is to increase our desired business outcomes. We are no longer obsessed with just measuring how much traffic our online business generates. We also want to measure how well it performs in business terms” (Cutroni, 2010, pg. 3).

The Perfume Shop and Google Analytics:

A company existing in the fragrance market with strong online presence is ‘The Perfume Shop’. Consumers may use Google to search for a particular aftershave/perfume they are seeking, investigate the latest fragrances which are out, or simply to check the latest offers. Therefore the search queries which may connect consumers to the Perfume Shop’s listing on an SERP may reflect various informational or transactional goals. Analytics will inform the ‘The Perfume Shop’ what keywords consumers have typed in to get to their website, how many page visits these keywords have generate, how long they have spent after typing in these keywords, and how many unique visits a keyword has generated via tracking a computer’s IP.

Some other prime features which Google Analytics will produce reports on include:

Goals– ‘goal conversions are the primary metric for measuring how you site fulfils business objectives’ (Google Analytics Website). The Perfume shop could set their own goals which indicate a particular form of activity, such as what has been sold after a consumer views a page, or when a visitor registers for an account. Google Analytics may track how many times this page/goal is accomplished in line with the organisations’ objectives e.g ‘Thank you for your purchase, your order has been placed’.  In this case it can provide vast amounts of data about what’s working and what’s not in the organisation’s marketing efforts.

Comparing Date Ranges– Google Analytics can allow the company to compare two different time periods and chart them immediately. ‘The Perfume Shop’ could establish that more page visits may have occurred in June as opposed to January which indicates more consumers were after fragrances in the summer or that consumers spent longer on viewing product pages in December, which indicate decision-making was more difficult for consumers around Christmas time.

The Bounce Rate- measures the number of visitors to the website who leave without going any further. Analytics will let the organisation view their bounce rate over a period of time, and see how it varies from page to page. This will indicate which web pages are inefficient and do not affect user behaviour.

1)      Google Analytics Website/ Products, http://www.google.com/analytics/features.html, Accessed 6/03

2)      Cutroni, J. 2010, Google Analytics, 1st Edition, O’ Reilley Media, Sebastopol

3)      Pan B, Xiang Z, Law R & Fesenmaier D, 2010. ‘The Dynamics of Search Engine Marketing for Tourist Destinations’, Unpublished

 

DCS Week 4- issues of virtual reality in everyday life, and the creation of seamless communication experiences for service delivery improvement

Whist taking into account the various range of needs which customers carry, organisations must attempt to understand these needs before they commence in marketing their product/service and win over the consumer’s attention.  It seems obvious that the majority of organisations attempt to stipulate the benefits of purchasing their product and claim it resolves a particular need.  On the bases of user centred innovation established by ‘Verganti’ (1998), practitioners and designers are constantly told to visually monitor how customers use products to understand their unsatisfied needs. Companies/ Inventors create new products and design innovations by establishing new customer needs. This implicates that consumers obliviously create innovations in their every day behaviour.

Verganti discovered that previous management literature has focused on radical innovation (technological) being a major source for long-term competitive advantage, and secondly that people do not buy products but meanings. “People use things for profound emotional, psychological, sociocultural reasons as well as utilitarian ones” (Verganti, 1998, pp 4).  In this case user centred perspectives allow an understanding of how people give meaning to things.

With these studies in mind ‘design- driven innovation’ concerns not how people apply meanings to things, but how new unexpected meanings are created which consumers were not aware of. A classic example Verganti uses to support this is the way that Nintendo after introducing their motion based Wii console, they created the ‘meaning’  that it stimulated active physical entertainment, in reality, through socialisation. This is how the company differentiated itself from the other competing console manufacturers Xbox and Playstation. Consumers didn’t request the meaning but they loved it.

Despite the power and possibilities of ‘design-driven innovation’ where companies create meanings, it is still crucial for companies to pay to attention to the meanings people make of  things themselves to better understand their needs and why they value/use particular features of products.

In relation to this, the guest lecture presented by Mark Crossman this week focused on how brands create meanings through unique user experiences, and communication which differentiates them from others. Consumers tend to purchase and are loyal to particular brands because of the emotional attachment which has been developed. The themes and values which companies use to develop emotional attachments are what make a brand. The idea of ‘seamless communication’ in this sense regards orientating all content presented to consumers around the primary meanings which they associate with the brand.  A typical example highlighted by Mark is the way that Virgin ensure everything reflects their brand notion even the napkins.

As technology develops, it is important for organisations to concentrate on the same communication/style which reflects their brand rather than get distracted by the capacity of technology. In a virtual world where services can now be experienced online due to advancements in digital technology, a problem lies with the fact that certain that features and functions of a service offering become intangible.

Organisations find it more difficult to reinforce their brand setting and emotional appeal in a digital environment. For example, if a customer walks into a ‘Lush’ store they are welcomed by an array of many colours, attractive shapes/designs and most substantially a variety of scents. The organisation may portrays meanings of naturalness and beauty which consumers associate with the brand, but in an online setting, the company cannot create the same seamless feeling for consumers who have not experienced the brand before.

Another problem pertaining virtual reality and conveying the same meaning/values regards accessibility. Mark explained how in an online setting, anyone can view or experience a service or visual platform which may make the actual targeted consumers feel the brand value is corrupted.  The separation of target segments/ audiences cannot occur for this reason. One example of this the way events can be streamed online by almost anyone e.g. London Fashion Show.

With these difficulties in mind, organisation can still improve the intangible delivery of their services by focusing everything around the meanings/values their brand reflects, attempting to provide a high level of customer service, and by providing intriguing content which make consumers feel as close to a real experience as possible. In terms of a high level of customer service which can be received in store company websites such as Mobile networks, allow consumers to have live conversations with sales advisors.

 

Burrow (2008, pp. 230) expresses ‘the design of the website and effective communication principles are needed to attract consumers to the business and to help them make a purchase’.  One service provider which undergoes extensive efforts to provide creating seamless communication experiences for users is DisneyLand. In partnership with Google Earth the organisation allows consumers to have virtual 3D tours of each theme park and the attractions within while being guided by a Disney character to reflect their fun juvenile values. Visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/special/flashPages/index?id=GoogleEarthPage&bhcp=1

 

1)      Burrow, J. 2009, ‘Marketing’, 3rd Edition, South- western Cengage learning, Mason USA

2)      Verganti, R. 2009, ‘Design Driven Innovation: Changing the rules of competition by radically innovating what things mean’, 1st Edition, Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston USA

 

DCS Week 3- Mobile applications and current marketing challenges of mobile communications

When mobile phones were first introduced in analogue format, they were perceived as portable communication platforms for merely contacting people from any outdoor location with personal and convenient access. The introduction of digital technologies has changed society in many ways. Along with cost advantage, the capabilities of the mobile service have also improved in the sense that people can now effortlessly gather information, entertain themselves, and engage in transactions. The digital device also serves as an important element for identity construction and self expression as people can now manage their own social profiles, set their own caller I.d with enhanced contact details, and also interacts with others under their own personal image.

The development of such a wide variety of features has caused the focus of organisations to extend from digital marketing through the internet to marketing to through mobile phones. Marketers now take into account that mobiles have created new marketing opportunities. They understand the consumers can now be contacted at times which would not be possible in other situations, and with more media options. But with these new opportunities in mind, it is difficult to reach all countries and individuals at the same angle when mobile adoption levels vary accordingly. This is highlighted under the ‘digital divide’ theory which has been explored by many researchers/academics, and conceptualises that there is a divide globally for the populations which use and have access to ICT products/innovations.

Mobile Adoption Varies across the globe:

After perceiving new product adoption among consumers was a function of consumer demographics, Stump, Gong and Li (2008) conducted research to discover that age and income are the two most significant socioeconomic factors which affect mobile phone adoption levels across nations. They found that countries with a high median age, and high relative wealth (GNP) are the greatest diffusers of technological innovations e.g. mobiles, and that these are interrelation factors.

Governments and companies must develop programs which aim to bridge the digital gap, and move people toward greater mobile access, use and commerce opportunities. Investment in mobile technologies can expand economic activity, increase wealth, and enhance the perceived quality of life worldwide; through creating time, place, and information utilities (Peterson & Malhotra, 1997).

Despite the variance in mobile usage due to socioeconomic factors, mobile marketing is still becoming an important focus for organisations who understand that is reaches more people than any other mass media. In developing countries like Egypt and India where internet access through computers is difficult, many web users access the internet only through their mobiles.

What’s the most effective form of mobile marketing?

The modern basis of mobile marketing tends to be orientated around mobile applications. The major manufacturers involved in the applications market are Apple (Iphone/Ipad), and other Smartphone providers such as Blackberry, Samsung, HTC, and Nokia (allied with google android). For marketers, mobile apps allow consumers to connect with their brands/offers and promotions quicker and more conveniently through new technological features, and also become interactive whether in the form of games or social discussions. In this way applications not only promote products but also raise the general awareness of an organisation.

Applications also spread very quickly as they are abl

e to be downloaded at the touch of a button on someone’s handset, and friend recommendations about different media apps are an unbelievably powerful word of mouth tool. With the difficulties of measuring the ROI (return on investment) achieved through other

media sources, it is easy to trace the cost of providing an app, and the amount of income made from the amount of mobile users who purchase.

 

Carlsberg’s ‘CatNAV’ app launched in 2009 aimed to help festival-goers at their Carlsberg Cat Laughs Comedy Festival.  It allowed users to download a mini guide to the festival including maps and line-ups, personalise their experience by selecting events that they want to receive alerts for, and also access live mobile Twitter feeds. (Business & Leadership/ 05/09).

After recognising the many of their customers shop online, Abercrombie and Fitch decided to launch a mobile app so that customers can experience the Abercrombie & Fitch lifestyle “anywhere, at any time.” The free Abercrombie & Fitch iPhone application offers a store locator that helps consumers find locations closest to them even while they are on the go.

Users can view Abercrombie & Fitch’s gallery of present marketing campaigns, and news and updates about where the brand is opening the next Flagship store. (Tsirulnik, 2010)

On top of these advantages mobile applications are also important for Relationship marketing as companies can obtain and track a range of information/data on consumers  e.g. demographic data & lifestyles/interests by monitoring what apps are purchased, what ads are viewed, what matters they discuss through their mobiles etc. This data can then be used to tailor marketing communications to suit particular market segments, and have a stronger influence on their buying behaviour.

Companies don’t necessarily have to own or create the mobile application, as most apps have wide appeal because of the functionalities they enable in connecting mobile users to a range of brands/discussions and information. But they must ensure that their products, brands and company information are accessible and displayed through an app e.g Twitter Mobile App.

Challenges:

Mobiles have provided many new opportunities for marketing and  ‘m-commerce’ transactions. “In contrast to text messages, truly interactive mobile applications reside on the cell-phone itself to connect companies directly to consumers and deliver a complete entertainment experience” (Macri, 2006). Despite the capabilities and benefits of mobile as new marketing communication tool, many challenges of marketing through these platforms remain. The main challenge concerns the fact that mobile marketing is still in it’s infancy and does not yet carry mass appeal.

Digital divide- as discussed before it is difficult for marketers to reach their entire target markets when the amount of people who own and have access to mobile handsets varies across countries due to wealth and age. In order for mobile marketing to be more effective governments/corporations must develop unique actionable programs which seek to bridge the digital gap as mentioned earlier.

Technology– if a country has a high mobile adoption rate, this does necessarily mean it possesses the most up to date mobile technology e.g. 3g or 4g. In this case mobile marketing through mobile apps and web addresses would not be feasible. In Egypt for example, many people have mobile phones but these tend to be old mobiles (minimum features/capabilities) phones which have been recycled by developed countries like the UK which are most technologically advanced in terms of mobile experience and knowledge.

User Capacity– As mentioned above, the technological experience and know-how of individuals affects the appeal of mobile functions/apps. As the age of mobile phone users tend to be young or median, companies will struggle to connect with older target markets less interested in technologically advanced handsets.  Since a country’s GNP per capital reflects its economic and technological resources/capabilities, less developed countries may indicate less technically experienced users.

Operators and Networks– Organisations who wish to provide their own mobile applications or mobile web strategies must first gain the approval of the operators and networks which service consumers. More applications may be available through Google android or Vodafone or an organisation’s application may not be compatible with a particular operating system or device. Therefore organisations are limited with their direct ability of using mobile marketing strategies.

Lack of Strategy- Companies are aware of the potential mobile marketing has at reaching different segments, but they lack strategy and direction on how to use the ‘many media to one’ devices. If they feel mobile advertising is effective then they are unsure on whether to advertise by sponsoring apps, or publishing promotions on mobile sites.  “Brands should choose apps which will enhance the consumer’s overall experience of the device. Only then can they truly succeed in their marketing efforts” (Viswanathan)

1)      05/09, Business & Leadership, ‘Cat Laughs gets Carlsberg mobile app’, Marketing, http://www.businessandleadership.com/marketing/item/13800-cat-laughs-gets-carlsberg-m

2)      Tsirulnik,G. 01/10, ‘Abercrombie & Fitch enters mobile commerce’, Mobile Commerce Daily, Mobile Marketer, http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2010/01/21/abercrombie-fitch-adds-additional-sales-channels-with-mobile-commerce-offerings

3)      Viswanathan, P,’Can Apps Enhance Mobile Brands’ Marketing Strategy?’Apps Dev Basics, About; Mobile Devices, http://mobiledevices.about.com/od/appbranding/f/Can-Apps-Enhance-The-Mobile-Brands-Marketing-Strategy.htm

4)      Rodney L. Stump, Wen Gong and Zhan Li , 2008. ‘Exploring the Digital Divide in Mobile-phone Adoption Levels across Countries’, Journal of Macro marketing, Sage Publications,  28: 397

5)      Peterson, Mark, and Naresh K. Malhotra. 1997. ‘Comparative marketing measures of societal quality of life: Substantive dimensions in 186 countries’, Journal of Macromarketing 17 (Spring): 25-38.

6)      Macri, D. 03/2006, ‘Understanding Mobile Marketing’, Mobile, Imedia Connection, http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/8758.asp